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Can I Potty Train My Child in Three Days?

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Question: Can I Potty Train My Child in Three Days?
A friend (who doesn't have kids) recently told me that there is a proven method for potty training kids that says you can get them out of diapers in three days. It sounds too good to be true? Is there really a three-day approach that works?
Answer: There are several books and experts who promote a three-day potty training regiment -- but there are a lot of caveats with this method. It's not appropriate to try with every child. You also need to have realistic expectations. In other words, even if your child is beginning to use the potty after your three-day training, he probably won't be totally independent. You may still need to remind him when to go and take him to the bathroom on a regular schedule. Depending on his age, you may also need to continue to help your little on undress and wipe (especially after a bowel movement). In short, be prepared for accidents and the need for ongoing support before your child is completely ready to use the potty on her own.

Get ready to for potty boot camp

Before you start, it's a good idea to read up on a few fast-training methods so you can decide what approach will work best for you and your child. Some sources you can turn to include:

Many of these plans follow the method popularized by a San Francisco preschool teacher, Julie Fellom. Her approach includes preparing for three days of diaperless and pantless potty training. Her recommendation is also that you have multiple portable potties around the house so that there is always a place to pee or poop nearby.

Thus, if you want to try this approach you should consider investing in extra potty chairs and having materials that will either protect your floor or allow you to quickly clean up the inevitable mess.

The only other must-have recommended by most promoters of the three-day potty training approach is plenty of water or diluted juice. Offer these to your child frequently throughout the day to encourage urination. (Yes, you really want to encourage more frequent pees. This will provide you with plenty of opportunities to have your toddler practice using the potty.)

Of course, before you dive into this process, you need to be sure your toddler is ready. The three-day potty training method is best suited for children who are showing strong signs of potty readiness and have good motor skills.

Steps for quick potty training

Once you've determined that this is the best way to go, you need to find a three-day period that you can fully commit to potty training. Plan to spend all your time at home, although you might be able to venture out with your child if she seems to catch on within the first day or two. Cancel play dates, put aside work, and plan simple and fuss-free meals for these days so you won't be distracted. Talk to your child about the big day when you'll start potty training. Show her the date on the calendar and count down the days the week before.

Next, get your home ready by setting out the potty chairs and covering any areas that might be hard to clean. Have towels, mops, and other cleaning tools at the ready.

As soon as your child wakes up, remind her that this is "the day." Explain that she's going to say goodbye to diapers and spend three days with no pants until the third day, when she'll graduate to wearing pants without diapers during the day.

For the next few days, your job is to watch your child like a hawk. Every time he shows a sign of starting to urinate or have a bowel movement, rush him to the potty. There will be messes, but many parents say that accidents are infrequent and often even nonexistent after the second day.

For the approach to work, experts usually insist that pantsless is necessary during the day. You can use diapers or Pull-Ups for naps and night time. After the three days (assuming your child is now using the potty), it's usually suggested that you don't immediately start using underwear since they fit closely like a diaper and may lead your child to think they are diapers and fine to pee and poop in. Instead, quick potty training advocates recommend having your child wear loose-fitting pants with nothing underneath for the next three months.

Success!

As I noted above, don't expect your child to be perfectly potty trained after the three days. It's more realistic to think of this training period as a huge step and the move out of daytime diapers. No matter which method you choose, always keep in mind that potty training is a process. It can take months or even a year and longer for a child to be able to go to the bathroom without a reminder, wipe independently, pull up and down her clothes, flush, and wash up.

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